Nature vs Nurture

8 August 2016

Nature versus nurture debate is a psychology term related to whether heredity or the environment most impacts human psychological development (behavior, habits, intelligence, personality, sexuality and so on)”.

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Is man a product of his environment or is personality development solely dependent on genetic makeup? Is man a product of his environment or is personality development solely dependent on genetic makeup? What are the reasons that have led to the nurture versus nature debate? What are the positive aspects of the nurture versus nature debate? What are some the negative implications brought to light by this debate?

Have there been any findings to say whether or not nurture affects ones personality? Based on my research, what are my conclusions in terms of the effects of nurture versus nature debate on society? Nature versus nurture debate is a psychology term related to whether heredity or the environment most impacts human psychological development (behavior, habits, intelligence, personality, sexuality and so on)”. Is man a product of his environment or is personality development solely dependent on genetic makeup?

The nature versus nurture is a debate concerning the relative importance of an individual’s innate qualities (“nature,” i.e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences (“nurture,” i. e. empiricism or behaviorism) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. Nature is generally the coding of genes in each cell in humans which determine the different traits that we have, more dominantly on the physical attributes like eye color, hair color, ear size, height, and other traits. However, it is still not clear whether the more abstract attributes like personality, intelligence, sexual orientation, likes and dislikes are gene-coded in our DNA also.

One of the most burning issues against nature theory is that there may be an existing “gay gene”, which explains that gays are actually born that way. Another issue says that criminal acts, tendency to divorce and aggressive behavior causing abuse can be justified by the “behavioral genes” once the researchers have proven their existence. On the other hand, the behavioral genes are somewhat proven to exist when we take a look at fraternal twins. When fraternal twins are reared apart, they show the same similarities in behavior and response as if they were raised together.

The nurture theory says that genetic influence over abstract traits may exist; however, the environmental factors are the real origins of our behavior. This includes the use of conditioning in order to induce a new behavior to a child, or alter an unlikely behavior being shown by the child. According to John Watson, one of the strongest psychologists who propose environmental learning as a dominating side in the nature versus nurture debate, once said that he can be able to train a baby randomly chosen in a group of 12 infants, to become any type of specialist he (Watson) wants.

He stated that he could train them to be such regardless of the child’s potentialities, talents and race. Although it is true that fraternal twins raised apart have remarkable similarities in most respects, still the intervention of the environment have caused several differences in the way they behave. The nature versus nurture debate goes on and on, but still, it is a fact that we have traits that are predetermined by our genes, but we can still choose who we want to be as we travel through our lifetime. “Flanagan (2002) explored the Minnesota study in which a set of twins was raised separately.

The Minnesota twin study concluded that on multiple measures of personality and temperament, occupational and leisure-time interests and social attitudes, mono-zygotic twins reared apart are about as similar as are mono-zygotic twins reared together” (Flanagan). This is a prime example that nature plays a significant role in our development. In another instance a study was conducted about adopted babies. Families with adopted children share the same environment, but not the same genetic code (Flanagan, 2002).

The Texas Adoption Project found “little similarity between adopted children and their siblings, and greater similarity between adopted children and their biological parents” (Flanagan). This example also shows how important the role of nature plays on a child’s development. The Texas Adoption Project found “little similarity between adopted children and their siblings, and greater similarity between adopted children and their biological parents” (Flanagan). This example also shows how important the role of nature plays on a child’s development.

Knowing that nature plays a role in a child’s development, educators can use this to determine possible disabilities. For example, if two parents have a reading disability, it is more likely that their child may develop a reading disability as well. It gives teachers a heads up on what to look out for. This can help educators be proactive and intervene at earlier ages. The influence of a person’s environment on their behavior is a very commonly accepted factor. The question is how much the environment can affect the behavior and abilities of a person.

Some basic factors such as nutrition can be shown to have an important influence on the abilities of a person. It has also been demonstrated that fears, through the experiences of children, can be learned. Most importantly, some behaviors, if not learned from the environment, will never develop. Environment plays a significant role in development as humans. When considering a person’s environment in influencing ability, nutrition plays an important example. In one study, a group of children were given vitamin and mineral supplements for eight months.

They were given intelligence tests before and after the eight-month treatment. The result was improvements in scores as compared to another group whom we not given vitamin and mineral supplements (“Nature vs. Nurture”, 2001). The results suggest that environment plays a role in the intellectual ability of people. It is not an illogical leap to understand this will probably extend to physical abilities as well. Another example of environmental influences in the behavior of people comes from a study done to an infant of 11 months.

The infant was subjected to a terrible noise whenever he attempted to touch a white rat in the room with him. The child later displayed fear whenever he came in contact with anything white or furry (“Nature vs. Nurture”, 2001). ” A last example of environmental influences in behavior comes from France in 1799. A boy of 12 or 13 was found running with wolves. When he was discovered he was brought back into society. He never developed as a normal human and had tremendous difficulties in society (“Nature vs. Nurture”, 2001). This suggests that much of what we consider human behavior is socially learned.

While no one would suggest that nurture is the only factor that needs to be considered in discussing behavior, it is definitely a significant factor in how we behave as humans. By ignoring the environment, we would miss a large part of what shapes and guides us in life. As stated in the third paragraph John B. Watson, the first prominent behaviorist, noticed that real-life parents aren’t very systematic in the way they condition their children’s responses and offered to demonstrate how to do the job properly. The demonstration would involve rearing twelve young humans under carefully controlled laboratory conditions.

John said, “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select–doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors”. Fortunately for the dozen babies, no one took Watson up on his proposal. To this day, there are probably some aging behaviorists who think he could have pulled it off, if only he had had the funding.

But in fact it was an empty boast–Watson wouldn’t have had the foggiest idea of how to fulfill his guarantee. In his book Psychological Care of Infant and Child he had lots of recommendations to parents on how to keep their children from being “spoiled” and how to make them fearless and self-reliant (you leave them alone and avoid showing them affection), but there were no suggestions on how to raise children’s IQs by twenty points, which would seem to be an important step toward getting them into medical or law school, in preparation for the first two occupations on Watson’s list.

Nor were there any guidelines for how to make them choose medicine over law, or vice versa. When it got right down to it, the only thing John Watson had succeeded in doing was to produce conditioned fear of furry animals in an infant named Albert, by making a loud noise whenever little Albert reached for a rabbit. Although this training no doubt discouraged Albert from growing up with the idea of becoming a veterinarian, he still had plenty of other career options to choose from. A more promising behavioristic approach was that of B. F.

Skinner, who talked about reinforcing responses rather than conditioning them. This was a far more useful method because it didn’t have to make do with responses the child was born with–it could create new responses, by reinforcing (with rewards such as food or praise) closer and closer approximations to the desired behavior. In theory, one could produce a doctor by rewarding a kid for bandaging a friend’s wounds, a lawyer by rewarding the kid for threatening to sue the manufacturer of the bike the friend fell off, but what about the third

occupation on Watson’s list, artist? Research done in the 1970s showed that you can get children to paint lots of pictures simply by rewarding them with candy or gold stars for doing so. But the rewards had a curious effect: as soon as they were discontinued, the children stopped painting pictures. They painted fewer pictures, once they were no longer being rewarded, than children who had never gotten any rewards for putting felt-tip pen to paper.

Although subsequent studies have shown that it is possible to administer rewards without these negative after effects, the results are difficult to predict because they depend on subtle variations in the nature and timing of the reward and on the personality of the reward. In conclusion, both sides of the nature/nurture debate present evidence which supports its impact on development. Studies have shown that heredity is a major factor in developmental similarities among twins raised separately (Flanagan 2002).

Studies have also shown that nutrition plays a significant role in cognitive development (“Nature vs. Nurture”, 2001). Most experts agree that most aspects of a child’s development are a product of the interaction of both nurture and nature (Bee, 2004). Interestingly, in recent years, new technology has enabled scientists to gain a deeper understanding of the genetic component of development, increasing interest on this side of the debate (Bee).

Although no longer an “all or nothing” issue, the extent to which nature and nurture affect development will likely be debated for years to come. I personally think that both nature and nurture has grandiose effects on one’s personal development. Both are them play a very important role in the shaping of an individuals and are both to be seen equally as they complement each other.

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Nature vs Nurture. (2016, Aug 09). Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-nature-vs-nurture-4/
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